Rhapsody in Blue

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Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects. The composition was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé three times, in 1924, in 1926, and finally in 1942. The piece received its premiere in a concert entitled An Experiment in Modern Music, which was held on February 12, 1924, in Aeolian Hall, New York, by Paul Whiteman and his band with Gershwin playing the piano. The editors of the Cambridge Music Handbooks opined that "The Rhapsody in Blue (1924) established Gershwin's reputation as a serious composer and has since become one of the most popular of all American concert works."[1]

Contents

History

Commission

After the success of an experimental classical-jazz concert held with French-Canadian singer Eva Gauthier at Aeolian Hall on 1 November 1923, band leader Paul Whiteman decided to attempt something more ambitious.[2] He asked Gershwin to contribute a concerto-like piece for an all-jazz concert he would give in Aeolian Hall in February 1924. Whiteman became interested in featuring such an extended composition by Gershwin in the concert after he had collaborated with Gershwin in the Scandals of 1922, impressed by the original performance of the one-act opera Blue Monday, which was nevertheless a commercial failure. There would certainly be call for revisions to the score; he felt that he would not have enough time to compose the new piece.[3]

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